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iPad Mini 4 may offer split-view mode to display two apps side-by-side

The next iPad Mini could let you view and run two apps side-by-side, according to a resource file from the Safari 9 browser in Apple's upcoming El Capitan operating system.

Will Apple's next iPad Mini squeeze in the new split-view feature? CNET

Equipped with iOS 9, Apple's next iPad Mini may offer a split-screen feature that will already work on the iPad Air 2.

Demoing iOS 9 at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, Apple showed off a new split-view feature that would allow you to run two apps at the same time side-by-side. Apple put a damper on the news by saying that only the current iPad Air 2 with the upcoming iOS 9 would offer the feature because of its beefier A8X processor and extra memory. But a resource file related to the next Safari browser suggests that the iPad Mini 4 may also tap into such a feature, according to 9to5Mac.

Apple needs to give people a reason to buy new iPads. Demand for tablets in general has been dropping, and Apple has been caught in the downturn. For the second quarter of 2015 ended June 30, the iPad's market share fell to 24.5 percent from 27.7 percent in the same quarter last year, research firm International Data Corporation reported in late July. More consumers are opting for bigger-screened smartphones instead of tablets. Others are holding onto their tablets longer, seeing little reason to buy a new one. And many families are sharing a single tablet rather than buying one for each member of the household. Released in October, last year's iPad Mini 3 offered no major upgrades beyond support for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. So Apple has to find a new gimmick to sell its next Mini.

The resource file from Apple's upcoming OS X El Capitan's Safari 9 browser lists split-view support for the iPad Mini. Further, a website testing tool in El Capitan allows developers to simulate an iPad Mini 3 using Safari in split-view mode (though the Mini 3 won't support the feature). Based on the resource file and the testing tool, the split-view mode could pop up in the next iPad Mini, 9to5Mac said.

Split-view mode on an iPad is definitely a useful feature as it would allow you to run more than one app at the same time, just as you can on a Windows 10 tablet. The feature is ideal for the iPad 2, which sports a screen size of 9.7 inches diagonally. But running two apps side-by-side on an iPad Mini, which has a screen size of just 7.9 inches, may be less satisfying and more cumbersome. At this point, however, Apple may be testing the feature to see how user-friendly it would be on the Mini. A larger iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch screen has also been rumored to be in development. That big a tablet would definitely take advantage of a split-view mode.

Apple will hold a launch event on Wednesday, September 9, in which it's expected to unveil its new iPhone lineup. But the company will also reportedly demo its new iPads, according to a report from Buzzfeed. If true, that would mark a change from Apple's usual strategy of unveiling its latest iPads at a separate event in October.

A spokesperson for Apple declined CNET's request for comment.